Making a career change can be intimidating for some job seekers and career changers. Just recently, I was contacted by Antonia G. with a question about making the move from the military into the private sector.
Q: Hi Patricia. I served in the military for quite a while and am now trying to make a move into the private sector. How do I make the move from the military to the private sector as easy as possible?
A: Antonia, when you make a change into a new industry, your approach needs to be more personal. So:
- Build a solid network. A network is something you should have and maintain throughout your career anyway.
- Research employers, their competitors, their associates, and affiliations to include in your network of contacts.
- Since most jobs (anywhere from 40 and 80%) are found through the hidden/unadvertised job market, your network plays a critical role – they are your eyes and ears.
- If your network hears of a job opening ask that they inform you. You may even give members of your network a copy of your resume.
- Knock on doors. Make phone calls. Request informational interviews with potential employers – if they don’t have an opening now, they may in the future. If you make a great impression, you can easily become a contender for future jobs.
Q: What about my resume?
A: Your resume should give the employer an overview of your strengths and accomplishments. You will want to:
- Leverage your military expertise as well as your leadership abilities and strengths such as discipline – do this in your resume as well as your cover letter.
- Tailor your resume to each position for which you apply.
- Avoid the temptation of filling your resume/cover letter with military lingo and military acronyms. You want your resume to show your expertise but you want it to be in line with what the employer wants.
The above should give you a sense of just how important networking is to your job search. At its most basic, networking is the method by which a person establishes and builds relationships with business contacts.
A common misconception surrounding networking is that it is simply the act of meeting many people and then handing out as many business cards as possible. However, an essential element of networking is that it is actually more about identifying the right people to add to your network and cultivating ongoing relationships. In essence, it is deciding who out of every person you meet and interact with is actually best suited.
So now you’ve got some great tools in your job search arsenal. In addition to a solid network, you have a background filled with leadership and discipline – qualities most people in the private sector don’t have. And, you clearly show how you are a good fit for each job for which you apply – you are able to do that because your resume and cover letter are customized to the job.
Remember, you don’t have to look at your military experience as a problem that you have to overcome. Use your particular qualities to your advantage, showcase your strengths and accomplishments in your resume and cover, and you will easily edge out your competition.
For some, making a career change can be overwhelming. Patricia Erickson discusses the ins and outs of career change at length in her new book entitled Career Management Guide: A Practical Approach To Career Change In Any Economy.
Patricia is a career management expert and certified professional resume writer with over twelve years of executive recruiting and coaching experience. She partners with career changers and job seekers to design strategies that transform careers. Patricia has helped clients to navigate toward their true career aspirations as well as finding purpose and personal fulfillment.